PURPOSE: This study was designed to determine the accuracy of physical examination (as judged by four-contrast defecography) for women with pelvic floor relaxation disorders.
METHODS: Sixty-two women (mean age, 59 years) who had obstructed defecation or constipation, vaginal prolapse, urinary difficulty, or pelvic pain underwent four-contrast defecography. Oral, vaginal, bladder, and rectal contrast were administered selectively and fluoroscopy was performed. Radiographic findings were compared with physical examination diagnosis.
RESULTS: Four-contrast defecography changed the diagnosis in 46 patients (75 percent); 26 percent of presumed cystoceles, 36 percent of enteroceles, and 25 percent of rectoceles were not present on defecography. Defecography also revealed unsuspected coexisting defects in addition to known abnormalities detected on physical examination. In contrast, when physical examination was negative for these defects, 63 percent of patients were found to have cystoceles, 46 percent to have enteroceles, and 73 percent to have rectoceles on four-contrast defecography. The discovery of Grade 2 or 3 unsuspected abnormalities was significant, especially so for enteroceles. For posterior vaginal eversions extending to or past the introitus, physical examination was accurate in only 61 percent. Physical examination of large anterior defects was more accurate, with 74 percent of patients being correctly diagnosed.
CONCLUSIONS: Physical examination diagnosis of pelvic floor relaxation disorders is frequently inaccurate, especially for large vaginal eversions. Four-contrast defecography improves diagnostic accuracy, helps to identify all pelvic floor defects before surgery, and can assist with planning the correct operative approach.
(C) The ASCRS 1995